Thursday, October 31, 2019

Actress Yvette Nicole Brown Joins 'Big Shot' Cast

Shiri Appleby has been cast as ‘Holly,” the good-humored and down-to-earth assistant basketball coach, and Yvette Nicole Brown has been cast as ‘Sherilyn,’ the no-nonsense dean of Westbrook School for Girls, in the Disney+ original series “Big Shot” written and executive produced by David E. Kelley and Dean Lorey and produced by ABC Studios, a label of Disney Television Studios. 

Shiri Appleby

Shiri Appleby most recently starred in Lifetime's critically acclaimed dramedy Unreal, earning a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for her lead role as Rachel Goldberg.  In addition to her work in front of the camera, she has also directed numerous TV episodes including “Light as a Feather,” “Roswell, New Mexico,” “Unreal” and “PLL: Perfectionists.” Appleby is repped by UTA and Jeanne Newman at Hansen, Jacboson law firm.

Yvette Nicole Brown

Yvette Nicole Brown will soon be seen as "Aunt Sarah" in the Disney+ live-action reimagining of “Lady and the Tramp,” premiering on the service November 12th.  She is perhaps best known for her starring role as "Shirley Bennett" on “Community,” and has also appeared on “The Mayor” and “The Odd Couple” reboot.   She recently completed work on the independent film “Love and Oatmeal” starring Ben Platt and Lola Kirke. Brown is repped by Innovative Artists.

Rounding out the Big Shot series regulars are Richard Robicheaux (“Boyhood,” “Oceans 8”) as “George,” Sophia Mitri Schloss as “Emma,” Nell Verlaque as “Louise,” Tiana Le as “Destiny,” Monique Green as “Olive,” Tisha Custodio as “Carolyn ‘Mouse’ Smith,” and Cricket Wampler as “Samantha ‘Giggles’.”

John Stamos, previously cast as “Marvyn,” leads this ensemble cast.

Jumanji The Next Level In Theaters December 13

In Theaters December 13, 2019

In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world's most dangerous game.

Directed By:
Jake Kasdan
Written by:Jake Kasdan & Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg

Based on the book Jumanji by:
Chris Van Allsburg

Produced by: Matt Tolmach
Jake Kasdan
Dwayne Johnson
Dany Garcia
Hiram Garcia

Executive Producers:
David Householter
Melvin Mar
Scott Rosenberg
Jeff Pinkner
William Teitler
Ted Field
Mike Weber

Dwayne Johnson
Jack Black
Kevin Hart
Karen Gillan
Nick Jonas
Alex Wolff
Morgan Turner
Ser'Darius Blain
Madison Iseman
with Danny Glover
and Danny DeVito

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Chadwick Boseman Is About To Cross '21 Bridges'

 21 BRIDGES follows an embattled NYPD detective (Chadwick Boseman) who is thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers after uncovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy. As the night unfolds, lines become blurred on who he is pursuing, and who is in pursuit of him. When the search intensifies, extreme measure are taken to prevent the killers from escaping Manhattan as the authorities close all 21 BRIDGES to prevent any entry or exit from the iconic island.

CTG Writers' Workshop Participants Announced

Ngozi Anyanwu
Center Theatre Group has selected participants for the 2019-2020 L.A. Writers’ Workshop, where local playwrights are invited to spend eight months in residence at the company researching and writing new works with the feedback from artistic staff and their fellow writers. The workshop, administrated by Center Theatre Group’s Artistic Department, is designed to foster new voices, inspire playwrights to create their best work, encourage bold writing and build relationships among local playwrights, Center Theatre Group and the Los Angeles theatre community.

“Being a large theatre in Los Angeles gives us the opportunity and the responsibility to open our doors and give writers a place to write exciting new plays,” says Center Theatre Group Associate Artistic Director/Literary Director Neel Keller. “Center Theatre Group was one of the first theatres to make wholesale commitments to the development of new work. The L.A. Writers’ Workshop grew out of that desire to have writers even more present and involved in the life of the theatre. It’s important for all of our spirits to have playwrights here—in the midst of all our activity. Their presence brings creative energy to our buildings and makes a clear statement that supporting the genesis of new, exploratory work is a central part of what Center Theatre Group is.”

Dionna Michelle Daniel

Those participating in the 2019-2020 L.A. Writers’ Workshop include Adelina Anthony, Ngozi Anyanwu, Jonathan Caren, Dionna Michelle Daniel, Boo Killebrew, Kenneth Lin, and Kemp Powers. 
Playwrights were selected by Center Theatre Group’s artistic staff. Each year, the goal is to bring together Los Angeles playwrights, all of varying backgrounds and writing styles, with the intent on creating work that challenges audiences and the surrounding theatre community. To be eligible, the writers must currently reside in Los Angeles and must be either starting work on a new play or interested in starting work on a new play.

Trey Edward Shults' 'Waves' Opens November 15

Waves, the stunning emotional epic that has been building heat since its world premiere at Telluride, will open in theaters November 15.  From A24 and filmmaker Trey Edward Shults, the film stars Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell,, Alexa Demiem with Renee Elise Goldsberry and Sterling K. Brown.

Friday, October 25, 2019

'Harriet' Original Song 'Stand Up' Out November 1

Stand Up, the original song written by Joshuah Brian Campbell & Cynthia Erivo for Harriet is now available on all digital platforms with the full soundtrack releasing on November 1.

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, HARRIET tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

Director:             Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou”, “Talk to Me”)
Writers:              Gregory Allen Howard (“Ali”, “Remember the Titans”) and Kasi Lemmons
Producers:         Debra Martin Chase, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Gregory Allen Howard
Cast:                   Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe, Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, Clarke                 Peters

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

U.S. National Fencing Champion and 2020 Olympic Hopeful, Kamali Thompson, Seeking Sponsors

Kamali Thompson

Kamali Thompson
 is making history and making America proud as masterfully shuttles between two worlds that may seem at odds with one another and manages a schedule that may seem almost impossible.

What are these two worlds? Thompson, dressed for competing in a sport dominated by men, holds a fencing Saber in her hand, while a stethoscope hangs loosely around her neck, which is required for her equally demanding role as fourth-year medical student.

Thompson, who is training for the 2020 Olympic team, is a 2019 Fencing U.S. National Team Member, ranking No. 6 in the US Team and 114 in the World, coupled with being a 2019 Pan American Team Champion.

The athlete is proving that her mission to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games can be pursued with passion and skill – even as she endures the rigors of medical school as she engages in studies for dual degrees at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

According to Thompson, when she realized that fencing and pursuing a medical education would place her on a nontraditional path, she decided almost immediately that rather than being afraid to push the envelope, she would embrace the challenge and give both her full commitment; not 50/50 but 100/100.

Thompson has found the challenge exhilarating.

Excelling in as a female athlete – a national champion -- in a combat sport is an amazing feat. Factor in the strenuous demands of being a fourth-year medical student with plans to specialize in orthopedic surgery – another largely male-dominated field -- requires sheer grit, guts, strategy, and remarkable intelligence.

 “The most challenging thing at this point is securing sponsors to help me successfully accomplish my dreams of being an Olympian and a surgeon,” says Thompson.
It all began for Thompson when she was recruited by the Temple University fencing team.  During her four years as a Temple Owl, she went on to become a four-time NCAA Championship qualifier, a second-team All-American, and the first four-time NIWFA conference champion. Her performance inside the classroom and on the fencing strip earned the title of Student-Athlete of the Year at Temple University twice (2011, 2012). She graduated from Temple University with honors, earning a bachelor’s of science in biology and a minor in psychology.

Post-graduation, Thompson matriculated into Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and began competing internationally for Team USA.

During the 2015-2016 Olympic qualifying year, she was a three-time national silver medalist. After a strenuous, yet rewarding season she finished 6th on the national point standings and won the 2016 National Championships. Thompson is a member of the 2019 national team, completing research in the sports medicine division in the department of orthopedic surgery at NYU, and studying to become an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon. She is also a 2018-2019 author for Doximity and continues to fiercely train for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.

“I think the difference between me and perhaps some other people is that I am not afraid to fail,” said Thompson, who also runs clinics for high school student-athletes on weekends. “I use that approach when training for the Olympics and studying for my medical degree and preparing to be a surgeon. I don’t stop to think about fear or reasons why I can’t tackle something. I don’t think you can ever fail, really. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way you planned, most of the time, it all works out. I just delve into the opportunity with the goal of succeeding no matter the challenge. ”

Fencing Accomplishments
➢ U.S National Team Member (2019)
➢ Pan American Team Champion (2019)
➢ Division I Women’s Saber National Silver Medalist (2015, 2018, 2019)
➢ Women in Sports Foundation Travel & Training Grant Recipient (2017, 2018)
➢ Division I Women’s Saber National Champion (2016)
➢ World University Games Team Member (2013)
➢ PNC Student-Athlete of the Year (2011, 2012)
➢ Second Team All-American (2012)
➢ 4-Time NCAA qualifier (2008 – 2012)

Silver and Cole Sing Tribute To Nat King Cole

Billboard chart-topping jazz singer Deborah Silver and four-time Grammy-nominated crooner-pianist Freddy Cole have been friends for two decades yet they had never sung a duet before they entered a Hollywood recording studio to record a loving tribute to commemorate Nat King Cole’s centennial birth year. Tapping Grammy winners Steve Tyrell and Alan Broadbent to respectively produce (with Jon Allen) and arrange the track, Silver and Freddy Cole’s enchanting “Orange Colored Sky” dropped Monday as a single.

Silver wanted to honor Freddy Cole’s late brother saying, “I think Nat King Cole was a huge influence on all music. His velvety voice and debonair delivery are iconic. Also, recognizing what an admirable role he played in the civil rights movement, he always showed grace and dignity. Nat King Cole was obviously a very special man and so is his brother, Freddy.”

Equipped with a fresh Broadbent arrangement of the tune Nat King Cole recorded at Capitol Studios in 1950, Silver and Freddy Cole recorded at the famed Sunset Sound Studios. As seen in this behind-the-scenes video (, the chemistry spawned from their endearing friendship and sweet affection seeped onto the single. 

“Our recording happened quickly. Singing the song together and being in the same room right next to each other made it really special. We just clicked. We were able to respond to each other on the spot. It was like having a much fun and truly magical. I’ve always thought Freddy Cole had the coolest voice and is the sweetest man. He has a style like no other. We have been friends for over 20 years and thought it was about time to do a duet together. It is nice when you work with people you are comfortable with. It just seemed so easy,” said Silver, who will perform with Freddy Cole at Blues Alley in Washington, DC on December 12-15 and at Birdland in New York City on December 23-28. 

“It (‘Orange Colored Sky’) was a great tune and we just thought it was appropriate to use on this occasion,” said Freddy Cole who turned 88 last week. “She’s (Deborah) a fine singer. She’s a good entertainer and she knows how to pick her material. Working with professional people, they know what they’re doing. Steve (Tyrell) brought his expertise to the table. It’s good to have another voice on the project that’s different from what yours is.”

Silver’s 2016 “The Gold Standards,” also produced by Tyrell and Allen and arranged by Broadbent, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Traditional Jazz Albums and Heatseekers Albums chart and No. 2 on Billboard’s Jazz Albums chart. It went Top 10 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart and hit Billboard’s Top 200. Silver is putting the finishing touches on a jazz-country hybrid collection of selections from the Great American Songbook that she recorded with Asleep at the Wheel that is slated to drop in the first quarter of 2020. The prolific singer hints at issuing a second album next year - a full album of duets with Freddy Cole.     

Netflix 'Let It Snow' Set To Air November 8 2019

When a snowstorm hits a small midwestern town on Christmas Eve, a group of high school seniors find their friendships and love lives colliding thanks to a stranded pop star, a stolen keg, a squad of competitive dancers, a mysterious woman covered in tin foil, and an epic party at the local Waffle Town. Come Christmas morning, nothing will be the same. Based on the best-selling book by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle, LET IT SNOW stars Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Jacob Batalon, and Joan Cusack.

Starring Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Kiernan Shipka, Odeya Rush, Jacob Batalon, Miles Robbins, Mitchell Hope, Liv Hewson, Anna Akana, and Joan Cusack

Directed by Luke Snellin

Screenplay by Laura Solon, Victoria Strouse, and Kay Kannon

Based on The New York Times bestselling book Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson

Produced by Dylan Clark, p.g.a., Alexa Faigen, p.g.a.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Final Trailer Released; In Theaters Nationwide December 20

The final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker debuted during halftime of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” NFL game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.

The film stars Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, with Ian McDiarmid and Billy Dee Williams

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams and Michelle Rejwan. Callum Greene, Tommy Gormley, and Jason McGatlin serve as executive producers. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was written by J.J. Abrams & Chris Terrio.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases in U.S. theaters on December 20.

Diesel Stars in "Bloodshot,' Set For 2020 Release

In Theaters nationwide February 21, 2020

Based on the bestselling comic book, Vin Diesel stars as Ray Garrison, a soldier recently killed in action and brought back to life as the superhero Bloodshot by the RST corporation.  With an army of nanotechnology in his veins, he's an unstoppable force -stronger than ever and able to heal instantly.  But in controlling his body, the company has sway over his mind and memories, too.  Now, Ray doesn't know what's real and what's not - but he's on a mission to find out.

Taylor's 'Black and Blue' Isn't Colorblind To Racism

By Darlene Donloe

After a rookie female cop named Alicia West (Naomie Harris) witnesses and records on her bodycam - some fellow cops assassinating some drug dealers, everything turns Black and Blue, set for nationwide release on October 25.

The film stars Academy Award nominee Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Tyrese Gibson (The Fast and Furious franchise), Mike Colter (Luke  Cage), and Nafeesa Williams (Black Lightning).

Set in New Orleans, the film, directed by Deon Taylor (Traffik, The Intruder), is a fast-paced action thriller about racism and police corruption that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.  

West has been a rookie cop for three weeks. Prior to that, she was military – so she can hold her own – if need be.  New Orleans is her old haunt – but since became a cop she is persona non grata amongst the black people, including Missy (Nafessa Williams) (a former friend who even denies knowing her.

"You think you're black?  You're blue now!" those were sentiments of the people who live in the hood.

Once the narcs, Kevin (Reid Scott) and a really nasty narc named Malone (Frank Grillo) and who killed the drug dealers realize West has on a body cam, they shoot her, but not lethally. She manages to get away – only to be hunted like a dog. 

The race is on to find her and stop her from getting back to the station and uploading the video.

When she realizes even her own partner may be in on whatever shenanigans the bad cops have in play, her only support and trust comes from Mouse (Gibson), a man who works at a local market who cares enough to help her run from the cops.

To make West a bigger target, the bad cops upload her photo and declare that she is the one who shot and killed the drug dealers, one of whom is a big bosses’ nephew named Zero.

The movie comes down to exactly what its title purports. The situation is Black and Blue.  The people in the hood no longer respect Harris or have confidence in her because she is, what they deem, on the side of the enemy in blue.

The one bit of business I couldn’t figure out was why – whenever West was able to use a phone, did she not call television stations to meet her at a specific location so they could upload the video and then she’d be safe.  Well, I guess that would have ended the movie rather early.

Director Deon Taylor has crafted a masterful, gritty drama that draws in the audience at every turn.  Taylor shot it mostly in the dark. A pivotal scene, he says, was shot solely using car lights. It makes for a very dramatic effect. The city of New Orleans is quite a provocative character in this movie.

The cast is solid. Kudos to Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson who both turn in stellar performances. Frank Grillo is brilliant as an evil narc.

Black and Blue stars Harris, Gibson, Grillo, Colter, Williams, Scott, and Beau Knapp.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Black and Blue (Sony Pictures) gets an O (oh, yeah).

Sunday, October 20, 2019

MGM's "Respect" Announces Ensemble Cast

Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) recently announced the award-winning ensemble cast joining Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson in the feature film RESPECT, based on the life of music icon Aretha Franklin. Following the rise of Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable true story of Aretha Franklin’s journey to find her voice. 

Hudson, who was personally hand-picked by Franklin to play her in the film, is joined by a stellar cast of stars including Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy-winner Forest Whitaker; Marlon Wayans; Tony, Grammy and Emmy-winner Audra McDonald; Multiple Grammy-winning, and Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominee Mary J. BligeMarc Maron; Emmy-nominee Tituss Burgess; Tony-nominee  Saycon Sengbloh; Tony-nominee Hailey Kilgore, Tate Donovan, and Skye Dakota Turner.

The first authorized feature film based on Franklin’s life, RESPECT is directed by Tony-nominee Liesl Tommy (Broadway’s Eclipsed) and is written by Emmy-nominee Tracey Scott Wilson (The Americans, Fosse / Verdon). 

Said Tommy“I am thrilled with the incredibly talented cast we have assembled for our film, and I’m so proud that Ms. Franklin entrusted us to tell her story and to share it with the world. As a storyteller, hers is the kind of story we all dream of telling. Her music has inspired me since I was a little girl, and the milestones of her life and career have shown us all how to strive and thrive.  To have this powerhouse group of actors - and the phenomenal talent of Jennifer Hudson in this iconic role - means we have the chance of making this film as transcendent as her glorious life and legacy."

The producers are Scott Bernstein (Straight Outta Compton) and multiple Grammy-nominated producer Harvey Mason Jr. (Dreamgirls), who has produced music for both Aretha Franklin and Jennifer Hudson.

Said Bernstein and Mason Jr., “We were given the rare privilege to work with Ms. Franklin directly to curate the stories she most wanted to share and the moments in her life that made her who she was. Over the years, she imparted to us how important it was to her that we share her story on the big screen and how important it was to have Jennifer in this role. To have that kind of deeply personal trust and insight from Ms. Franklin was nothing short of amazing for everyone involved.”

The film will exclusively feature the iconic songs: Respect; I Say A Little Prayer; Think; (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman; You’ve Got A Friend; Dr. Feelgood; Do Right Woman, Do Right Man; Spanish Harlem; and Young, Gifted and Black. The film will also feature Ain’t No Way; Precious Lord; There’s A Fountain Filled With Blood; Amazing Grace; and Chain of Fools.

The Franklin family will be played by:

Forest Whitaker (Godfather of Harlem) stars as Reverend CL Franklin. Known as the man with the "Million-Dollar Voice," Franklin served as the pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. Franklin was also the father of the American singer and songwriter Aretha Franklin and her manager early on in her career. Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy-Winner Whitaker is repped by WME and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Marlon Wayans (On the Rocks, highly successful Sextuplets, Marlon), stars as Ted White, Aretha’s first husband.  He is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment, WME and Lawrence Kopeikin and Kevin Yorn of Morris Yorn.

Audra McDonald—the winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Emmy—stars as Barbara Franklin, Aretha’s mother. McDonald is represented by WME.

Saycon Sengbloh (Broadway’s Eclipsed, CW’s In the Dark, ABC’s Scandal) stars as Erma Franklin, Aretha’s eldest sister. Stewart Talent and Impression Entertainment rep the Tony-nominee.

Hailey Kilgore (Broadway’s Once on This Island, NBC’s The Village, Amblin/Apple’s Amazing Stories) stars as Carolyn Franklin, Aretha’s sister. She is repped by Abrams Artists Agency, One Entertainment, and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein. 

After a worldwide casting search, the role of young Aretha Franklin will be played by Skye Dakota Turner (Broadway’s Young Anna Mae in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical). She is repped Sherry Kayne at The Green Room. 

Music legends will be played by:

Mary J. Blige (Mudbound) stars as famed recording artist Dinah Washington. APA reps the multiple Grammy-winning, and Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated artist.

Heather Headley (Broadway’s Aida) will play Clara Ward, the famed gospel artist and leader of The Famous Ward Sisters. CAA reps the Tony and Grammy-winner.

Tituss Burgess (Dolemite Is My Name, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) stars as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, who was known as the “King of Gospel.” CAA and Soffer / Namoff Entertainment rep the Emmy-nominee.

Marc Maron (Joker, GLOWSword of Trust) stars as legendary Atlantic Records music producer Jerry Wexler. He is repped by ICM Partners, Avalon Management and Granderson Des Rochers. 

Tate Donovan (Rocketman) stars as John Hammond, Columbia Records’ influential music producer. He is repped by Gersh and Authentic Talent and Literary Management. 

Franklin landed over 100 singles in the Billboard charts, including 17 Top 10 pop singles and 20 No. 1 R&B hits, 18 Grammy Awards, and was the first female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Her reinvention of Otis Redding’s Respect as a feminist anthem transformed her into an icon of the civil rights and women’s movements. Her cultural impact was felt throughout her career, from her singing at Dr. Martin Luther King’s memorial service to performing at three presidential inaugurations.

The film begins shooting November 1, 2019. From MGM and BRON Creative, RESPECT will be released domestically via UA Releasing on August 14, 2020. The film will be distributed internationally via Universal Pictures International.